What is ASAP?

wiseGEEK Writer

If you look up the many definitions of the term ASAP, you’ll find that they mostly identify the term as an acronym or abbreviation for the words as soon as possible. When spoken, ASAP (asap, a.s.a.p.) is pronounced A-sap, with a long A sound on the first syllable. There is little account for the origin of the term, though it is used in the military, in offices and in a variety of informal contexts.

A person texting and using the abbreviation ASAP.
A person texting and using the abbreviation ASAP.

ASAP lends itself nicely to texting. Sometimes you’ll see the term WRASAP, in caps or lower case letters. This typically means, “will respond as soon as possible.” On business memos or in other contexts, you may be asked to do things, respond to things or produce things very quickly. This often means working more quickly than you normally would, and possibly shoving everything else aside to do whatever needs to be done ASAP. The term conveys getting things done sooner, especially when it’s used in a request.

Though the medical world uses plenty of abbreviations, this common term is less widespread in hospitals. Instead, the word STAT is used to signify emergencies, or to request things like blood work testing be given highest priority and returned as soon as possible. ASAP may still be used in medical offices but it is undoubtedly less frequently used than STAT.

In military terms, though ASAP may mean as soon as possible, it also stands for the words, any situation always prepared. This referred to a sport drink manufactured for US Special Ops teams. When they couldn’t have meals on hand, the drink replied a meal replacement that was light to carry and wouldn’t degrade in high temperatures. The drink likely came after use of the term meaning as soon as possible. It bears some resemblance to other military acronyms like MREs, meals ready to eat.

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To confuse matters, there are a number of organizations, computer programs and even songs that are known by the acronym. These include Applied Security Analysis Program, Automated Storage and Picking, and Association of Serviced Apartment Providers. Sometimes ASAP is used jokingly to refer to as slow as possible, or as southern as possible. There are bands and several songs with the name too.

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Discussion Comments


ASAP is also an acronym for Aging Service Access Point.

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